Wednesday, October 22, 2008
CURLIN FACES STRONG CAST IN BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC REPEAT BID AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
ARCADIA, Calif. – Reigning Horse of the Year CURLIN will face 11 rivals, including international luminaries RAVEN’S PASS, DUKE OF MARMALADE (IRE) and CASINO DRIVE as he seeks to become the second repeat winner of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
A total of 153 horses from major racing centers around the world have been entered in the 25th edition of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships – Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event – with 14 races to be run over two days on Friday and Saturday, offering total purses and awards of $25,500,000 as the Arcadia, Calif. course hosts the event for the fourth time. Three of the entrants are listed as also-eligibles.
The Breeders’ Cup races, to be run over a synthetic surface (Pro-Ride) for the first time, also will be shown on the Web at http://www.breederscup.com; and broadcast nationally on HRRN radio network.
Owned in partnership by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables, 4-year-old Curlin locked up Horse of the Year honors in 2007 with a 4 ½-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Curlin has won all five of his main-track starts in 2008 en route to becoming the first North American-based horse to exceed $10 million in career earnings ($10,246,800) which he did in his most recent start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park.
Regular rider Robby Albarado will be back aboard Curlin, who will be making his debut on a synthetic surface. Curlin, installed as the 7-5 favorite, will break from post position nine in the 1 1/4-mile Classic as he tries to join Tiznow (2000, 2001) as the only repeat Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.
Raven’s Pass, owned by H.R.H. Princess Haya of Jordan, is the 6-1 second choice in the Classic. Frankie Dettori has the mount on Raven’s Pass, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in his most recent start, who will be racing beyond a mile for the first time in his 12-race career. Raven’s Pass will break from post position eight.
Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Duke of Marmalade has won five Group 1 stakes in 2008 and will be making his first start on a synthetic surface. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Duke of Marmalade enters the Classic off a seventh-place finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 5. John Murtagh will ride Duke of Marmalade, who will break from post position four.
Japan’s Casino Drive is undefeated in three starts, his latest score coming in an allowance race at Santa Anita on Oct. 12. A half-brother to the past two winners of the Belmont Stakes – Jazil and Rags to Riches – Casino Drive won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont in his U.S. debut on May 10. Victor Espinoza has the mount on Casino Drive, who will break from post position two.
Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss, Zenyatta will put her eight-for-eight record on the line against seven other fillies and mares in the Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles, including defending champion (Distaff) GINGER PUNCH, owned by Stronach Stable.
Zenyatta, a 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry, began her racing career last Nov. 22 at Hollywood Park. In 2008, Zenyatta has posted six graded stakes victories, the most recent coming in the Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita on Sept. 27. Mike Smith, who has been aboard for Zenyatta’s past five victories, has the call Friday and will break from post position one for trainer John Shirreffs.
Ginger Punch, who lost in her only matchup with Zenyatta which came in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in April, enters the Ladies’ Classic off a runner-up finish to Godolphin Racing’s COCOA BEACH (CHI) in the Beldame. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Stronach Stable’s Ginger Punch has won five of seven starts in 2008 and will break from post position six under Rafael Bejarano.
In addition to Cocoa Beach, Godolphin will be represented in the Ladies’ Classic by the brilliant 3-year-old filly MUSIC NOTE. Also trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Music Note has won five of seven career starts and most recently won the Gazelle at Belmont Park by 8 ½ lengths.
The second-richest race on Championship Saturday, the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf, drew a field of 11 including previous Turf winners BETTER TALK NOW (2004) and RED ROCKS (IRE) (2006).
Now age 9, Better Talk Now will become the third horse in Breeders’ Cup history to compete in five championships joining Kona Gold and Perfect Drift. Trained by Graham Motion, Better Talk Now ran fourth in last year’s Turf at Monmouth Park. Ramon Dominguez has the mount and will break from post position one.
Red Rocks, now in the barn of Mark Hennig, ran third in last year’s Turf. In his lone U.S. start this year, Red Rocks defeated Curlin in the Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park on July 12. Frankie Dettori, who has ridden Red Rocks in both of his Breeders’ Cup Turf appearances, will ride Saturday and break from post position two.
Topping the European contingent for the Turf is Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (IRE), the morning line favorite at 7-2. A two-time Group 1 winner, Soldier of Fortune enters the Turf off a third-place finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for trainer Aidan O’Brien and will break from post position four.
Returning champion KIP DEVILLE headlines a deep field of 11 for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile. Owned by IEAH Stables, et.al. Kip Deville has won two of three starts this year for trainer Rick Dutrow. Cornelio Velasquez, who rode Kip Deville to victory last year at Monmouth, has the call Saturday and will break from post position two.
The Mile also has lured two highly accomplished females willing to challenge the boys: Lael Stables’ 5-year-old mare PRECIOUS KITTEN and Wertheimer & Frere’s 3-year-old filly GOLDIKOVA (IRE), who will break next to each other from post positions three and four, respectively.
Goldikova, who will be ridden by Olivier Peslier, beat male rivals going a mile in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on Sept. 7 for her fifth victory in seven starts at the distance on the grass. Precious Kitten, who will be racing against males for the first time and be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, is a three-time Grade 1 winner, who never has been worse than second in six turf starts at a mile.
Females have won five times in the previous 24 runnings of the Mile, headlined by Miesque’s back-to-back scores in 1987 and 1988. The most recent female Mile winner came at Santa Anita in 2003 with the victory by Six Perfections.
Another returning defending champion is Michael Pegram and partners’ MIDNIGHT LUTE for the $2 million Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Trained by Bob Baffert, Midnight Lute has started only once in 2008, a 10th-place finish in the Pat O’Brien Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 24 in which he grabbed a quarter coming out of the gate. Garrett Gomez, who has ridden Midnight Lute in his past three starts, has the call Saturday and will break from post position four.
SQUARE EDDIE and STREET HERO, two of the 38 horses to earn automatic starting positions in a Championship race through a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, top a field of 13 for the $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
J. Paul Reddam’s Square Eddie won the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in his U.S. debut to earn his place in the Juvenile; and Street Hero, owned and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, punched his ticket with a score in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita.
Undefeated BITTEL ROAD, trained by Todd Pletcher, headlines Saturday’s other race for 2-year-old colts and geldings, the $1 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Owned by James Scatuorchio and John Iracane, Bittel Road has won all three of his turf starts with two scores coming in stakes company.
Championship Saturday’s third grass race will be the inaugural running of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 6 ½ furlongs. MR. NIGHTLINGER, winner of five consecutive races in the Midwest for trainer Bret Calhoun, heads a full field of 14 with Jamie Theriot slated to ride.
Frank Calabrese’s LEWIS MICHAEL, full brother to 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Dreaming of Anna, will make his final appearance on the track in the second running of the $1 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Trained by Wayne Catalano, the 5-year-old Lewis Michael enters the Dirt Mile off a 2 ¾-length triumph in the Pat O’Brien Handicap at Del Mar.
Opening the Championship Saturday card will be the inaugural running of the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at a mile and a half. Horses that earned automatic berths into the field of nine are Hobeau Farm’s DELIGHTFUL KISS, trained by Pete Anderson, and Gary and Cecil Barber’s ZAPPA, trained by John Sadler.
In addition to the Ladies’ Classic, there are two other $2 million races on the Championship Friday card: The Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Four horses earned automatic berths into the 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf led by Arindel Farm’s WAIT A WHILE, the morning line favorite in the field of 10 at 3-1. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Wait a While has won all three of her career starts on the Santa Anita turf course including victories in the 2006 and 2008 renewals of the Yellow Ribbon. John Velazquez has the mount on Wait a While and will break from post position five.
Other automatic Filly & Mare Turf qualifiers were FOLK OPERA (IRE), FOREVER TOGETHER and MAURALAKANA (FR).
The 1 1/16-mile Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies figures to be a showdown between the gem of the West Coast, STARDOM BOUND, and the undefeated East Coast sensation SKY DIVA.
Charles Cono’s Stardom Bound has won her past two starts, the Del Mar Debutante and the Oak Leaf, in spectacular stretch-running fashion under jockey Mike Smith for trainer Chris Paasch. Installed as the 2-1 favorite, Stardom Bound will break from post position 10.
Puglisi Racing’s Sky Diva, trained by Steve Klesaris, won her debut by 10 lengths at Delaware Park on Sept. 9 and followed that up with a 3 3/4-length score in the Frizette on Oct. 4 at Belmont Park. Ramon Dominguez has the call on Sky Diva, the 7-2 second choice who will break from post position four.
Championship Friday’s other 2-year-old race is the $1 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, which drew a full field of 12 for the one-mile test. Automatic qualifiers for the race were Pamela Edel’s C KARMA, IEAH Stables, et. al’s LARAGH and Karen Woods and Saud bin Khaled’s MARAM, who is undefeated in two starts.
The $1 million Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint will offer Patti and Hal Earnhardt’s INDIAN BLESSING the opportunity to become the first horse in Breeders’ Cup history to win two different Championship races.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Indian Blessing won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park. This year, Indian Blessing has won five of seven starts and is a perfect two-for-two at the seven-furlong distance of the Filly & Mare Sprint. Installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite, Indian Blessing will be ridden by John Velazquez and break from post position five in a full field of 14.
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